I don’t dislike rainy days. In fact, I normally like their coziness. But that only applies when I’m inside. This whole week has been nonstop rain, and that doesn’t go well with my job. One day this week, I was constantly in and out of the car, meeting with clients, driving all over town. Because of the rain, I was running late to everything, I kept getting soaked, and I felt like I didn’t accomplish anything. I even got hit on by a food pantry volunteer: “Hey baby, why hasn’t your boyfriend put a ring on your finger yet?” I replied with a chilly, “I’m MARRIED” and showed him my left hand, which he had apparently mixed up with my un-ringed right hand, to which he countered, “I’m sorry, baby, I’m not used to working with such beautiful women!” Of course, this interaction took place while I was trying to take care of a diabetic client whose blood sugar had plummeted. And then I worked an extra hour because a client’s quick follow-up visit at the doctor turned into an ER visit. Long story short, I was tired and very cranky by the time I got home.
Perfect day for soup, and perfect day to spend some time in the kitchen angrily chopping things up. This minestrone (which is pronounced min-es-trone-ee, by the way) recipe was found on my hometown’s online newspaper some time back. They have a silly little food section where 5 new recipes along a theme are posted every week, and I’ve always found the section useless when there are so many good recipe websites, but this recipe find was solid gold. I’ve looked for a similar one on other sites and have never found one, so isledegrande gets credit for this one. I’ve made it many times before and it is definitely worth making again.
But first things first: a glass of delicious cheap red wine. This is very important.
Next, take a pound of sweet Italian sausage, remove the casings, crumble, and brown in a big pot. I almost skipped this, since I didn’t have any sausage, but I’m a good wife and knew that vegetarian soup wouldn’t cut it for hubby. Anyway, I was afraid that omitting this would have a bad effect on the overall quality of the soup, so I made a special trip for it. Yes, I know that technically minestrone is supposed to be meatless, but hey, this version of it isn’t. Go with it.
When I tried to crumble it on the cutting board, I just ended up with a gooey mess. I should have known better.
Here it is after it’s been browned in a big gumbo pot and then set aside.
Next, the recipe calls for 2 onions, chopped. I decided not to follow this to the letter, as my onions were huge. That knife in the picture is a giant chef’s knife, the biggest one I own, so you can see how big the onion is by comparison.
So, only some onion. I cheated and used my food processor to chop it finely. But didn’t take pictures of that, apparently.
Here it is in the pan with some chopped garlic. Browned bits from the sausage were still in the pot, but they came up with the onions and added extra flavor as they cooked.
Next, add a can each of red kidney beans and cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), plus 6 cups of water and a bay leaf. I forgot to photograph the beans looking all pretty and colorful in the colander, so you’ll just have to believe me.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and then return the sausage to the pan and add chopped carrots and celery,
a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes,
salt, pepper, nutmeg, and oregano.
Stir it all up, and then let it simmer (covered) for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, chop up some zucchini
And half a head of cauliflower.
Also, measure out a cup of uncooked pasta. I have tried a bunch of shapes, but anything small is good. Don’t overdo the pasta, though, no matter how tempting it is when you’re looking at that tiny cup, since it swells up and absorbs so much soup when you cook it.
Add the zucchini, cauliflower, and pasta, and cook for another 15 minutes or so. Then it’s ready to serve! You’re supposed to remove the bay leaf at this point, but I never find it until later.
I like to top with a bit of parmesan cheese. Yum!
I think this is my first time actually including the cauliflower, and to be honest, I think it’s a bit much. It tipped the balance from chunky to too-chunky soup (I spooned extra broth into the bowls when serving). But I think that’d due more to the amount that the recipe called for than the actual ingredient, so scale back a little if you make this. Regardless, the taste is satisfying and wonderful. It’s a beautiful rainy day meal, and it freezes very well.
Recipe is in the unshared tastebook (unshared since I liberally borrowed pictures, not realizing that I’d ultimately be sharing the recipes). Here's the original.(Jan 7, 2010). Email or comment if you have trouble finding it.